Feeling a bit disconnected to the business world? LinkedIn wants to help. The firm operates an online professional network designed to help members find jobs, connect with other professoinals, and locate business opportunities. The site has grown to reach more than 100 million users in some 200 countries since its launch in 2003. LinkedIn is free to join; it offers a paid premium membership with additional tools, and sells advertising. It additionally earns revenue through its job listing service, which allows companies to post job openings and search for candidates on LinkedIn. Former CEO and current chairman Reid Hoffman co-founded the company, which filed to go public in 2011.
LinkedIn's public offering -- significant in that it is the first major social networking company to file an IPO and the biggest US Internet IPO since Google -- priced at $45 a share, raising more than $352 million. (It may raise more, should its underwriters decide to sell additional shares.) That figure was at the high end of underwriters' expectations, and values LinkedIn at about $4.25 billion. The company plans to use the proceeds for more investment -- it expects to increase its product development efforts and expand its sales organization in the US and internationally.
The IPO comes after a period of rapid growth via the addition of new users. About 65 million unique users visit its site each month, and total members jumped from about 55 million in 2009 to its current figure of some 100 million. While this increase in membership caused revenue growth over the last three consecutive fiscal years, reaching revenues of $243.1 million in 2010, the company warned that it expects its revenue growth rate to decline. It made made only $15.4 million in 2010.
Past investments LinkedIn enacted include making smaller, targeted acquisitions and product enhancements. To this end, in 2010 the company purchased mSpoke, a technology firm that provides users with more relevant Web content through recommendations, and ChoiceVender, a provider of content ratings and reviews. LinkedIn also made technology enhancements designed to make the site more relevant to members, including offering the ability to link users' status updates to Twitter feeds. In 2010 the company made more professional networking tools accessible on mobile devices such as the Android, Blackberry, iPad, iPhone, and Palm platforms.
LinkedIn is also focusing its efforts on international expansion, having experienced growth in India, Brazil, and China. More than half of its member base comes from outside the US, and its service is available in languages such as French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. A reflection of its global focus, LinkedIn recently opened international offices in London, Mumbai, and Sydney. These operations add to its presence in Canada, Ireland, and the Netherlands.
At the close of 2008 Dan Nye resigned as CEO. He was replaced by Hoffman, who resumed the job he had for nearly four years when he started the business in 2003. In 2009 Jeff Weiner, a former EVP at Yahoo!, was appointed CEO. Hoffman remains with the company as executive chairman.
Hoffman and his wife Michelle Yee control more than 21% of LinkedIn's total votes. Hoffman, who was also a founding member of the board of directors at Paypal, is a partner at venture capital firm Greylock, which controls about 16%. Sequoia Capital, another venture capital firm, controls some 19%.